Food trend followers know that goat milk is increasingly popular as an alternative to cow milk and as the basis for cheeses, yogurt, butter and other products. But this rich milk can also be turned into beauty products, a usage with a centuries-old pedigree: In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra is said to have often taken baths in goat milk because it made her skin radiant and beautiful.
Julia Shewchuk, owner and operator of Serenity Acres Farm in Pinetta, Florida
(serenitygoats.com), notes that goat milk can be used in beauty products either as a powder or in its natural liquid form, which enables it to retain many of its inherent benefits. “It is added to the formulation and combined with oils and/or shea butter to provide the final product,” she says.
Goat milk is used in soaps, face washes, lotions and shampoos, says Alain Michon, MD, CCFP-EM, medical director of the Ottawa Skin Clinic in Ontario
The key skin-healthy component in goat milk, Michon explains, consists of its alpha-hydroxy acids. These acids have strong anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
As a result, alpha-hydroxy acids help to soothe dry skin and fight or prevent acne. “These acids also help break down dead skin cells—shedding them from the skin’s surface—and provide more youthful, supple-looking skin as well as anti-aging effects,” adds Michon.
In addition, goat milk has a high fat content and is naturally homogenized, with very small fat molecules. This enables your skin to absorb any products containing goat milk much more easily.
“This increases the moisturizing effect of the product, which in turn, helps to make the skin soft, smooth and more supple without feeling greasy,” explains Shewchuk. “Goat milk’s pH balance is also very similar to that of human skin, which enables any goat milk soap or beauty product to cleanse or moisturize the skin without stripping oils from it. This relieves drying and itching skin.”
Because of this specific trait, many people with sensitive skin as well as skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema are often able to use products containing goat milk on their skin without having adverse effects—especially if the formulations are free of essential oils, says Shewchuk.
“Older skin, which requires more moisture—especially on the face, hands and feet—also benefits tremendously from the gentle and moisturizing properties of goat milk–based products,” she explains.
Goat milk is full of vitamins and minerals that are absorbed into the skin along with the fat and protein, according to Shewchuk. This is especially true of vitamins A, B and E, which she says “are known for their regulating and regenerative effects.”
Goat milk soaps tend to have a higher fat content than commercial soaps as well as more natural ingredients. Because they still include glycerin, which attracts moisture to the skin, goat milk soaps help keep skin moist. Shewchuk explains that most commercial soaps do not contain glycerin because it has been steam-distilled out of soap used in more expensive beauty products. Shewchuk adds that goat milk is also used in face and body creams as well as lip balms and face masks.
Goat milk is valuable for more than its effects on the skin. For example, it is also used in creams to nourish nails. “In addition to its nourishing properties for dry, brittle nails, the antibacterial properties of goat milk are particularly helpful for preventing and promoting healing from fungal infections in nails,” Michon explains.
What’s more, goat milk haircare products are available in the form of conditioners and masks. These products, Michon says, provide the same kind of nourishment for the hair as goat milk soaps do for the skin.
Consuming goat milk itself can enhance skin, hair and nails by nourishing the body’s tissues from the inside out. Many people with lactose intolerance find they can drink goat milk; its smaller fat globules makes it easier to digest. As with any other skincare ingredient, goat milk soaps, shampoos and other topical products should be tested on a small patch of skin first, and you should always look for products with natural ingredients.
One final benefit: Shewchuk says goat milk shampoo bars provide the same benefits to your pet’s skin as it does for yours. “We use it for our dogs, as it cleanses their coats well without drying out their skin,” she notes.